Is there time for a TRL season in 2020? Photo: File
Is there time for a TRL season in 2020? Photo: File

Questions raised on TRL after easing restrictions

RUGBY LEAGUE: With crowds now allowed into grounds, the door remains open for senior rugby league to make a return to Toowoomba.

But do the clubs want it back?

The status of the Toowoomba Rugby League 2020 season received a lifeline on Tuesday following the latest easing of restrictions by the Queensland government.

This allows for community sport, including full contact, to return from July 3.

More importantly for clubs, the green light was given for crowds to be allowed into these venues.

The initial restriction of just 100 people into venues was a major reason for clubs agreeing with TRL chairman Rex Zeeman in announcing the cancellation of the season on May 26.

Before the decision to call the season off was made, a fixture was drawn up, with an 11-week regular season, commencing on July 25 with two weeks of finals resulting in an October 18 grand final.

Zeeman said on May 26 that an immediate reversal would generate interest in staging a competition, however a later date would present challenges.

“If the government said on Friday (May 29) that they’ve bowed to pressure and they would lift it (crowd restrictions) to 500, then I have no doubt I’d have 12 clubs on the phone to me saying we want to go.

“We sort of had a draw worked out that worked out pretty well.

“It would start on the 25th and 26th of July, 11 rounds. Two weeks of finals with the grand final on the 18th of October which is a week before the NRL (grand final).”

“I’ve got no doubt it (later reversals) will revise talks, but it depends on when they say it. If they start saying it for the 1st of August, I’d say forget it.

“I’m not going to play a half-baked competition for five or six weeks.”

The Chronicle spoke to Zeeman on this morning, with the chairman indicating that he would discuss the changes with his executive, but to his surprise at that stage had “no one beating down his door.”

One club president indicated that they would be on board with a return to play if they were given the green light to do so.

“If it were to go ahead, I think we’d be able to move forward with it,” they said.

“We’d definitely look at it if it was to go ahead.”

Earlier this month, the Queensland Rugby League announced that insurance payments would be covered up to the U18s age group, which prompted one club president to label an U18s competition as a genuine option.

Insurance costs were also indicated as a potential barrier, as was the fitness of players, however an immediate decision to return to play would allow clubs three full weeks of training before a July 25 kick-off.

One club held the belief that if the government was clearer on guidelines and the potential changes that could take place in the future, they would be in a better position to get underway.

Another president, who wished to remain anonymous, said it would be a tough decision to make either way.

“If this whole thing started at Christmas time it would be a whole lot different. I don’t think they would’ve called it off so early,” they said.

“Nobody could forecast the future. We may see everything is fine, then one little glitch and we could be back to where we were. There’s nothing to say we can’t end up like Melbourne.

“At the end of the day, if there’s an outbreak at one or two clubs, all hell could break loose.

“It comes down to the TRL and the clubs getting together to see what they think. I’m not sure if players are interested now.”

The Chronicle reached out to all clubs for comment.